Month: April 2018

Of Mice and Men

Author:John Steinbeck (Bio) | Publication:September 1, 1993 by:Penguin Books| Series: N/A | Length: 110 pages | Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Classical Literature, Fiction | ISBN:9780140177398 |Source: Amazon | Book: Amazon (here)

They are an unlikely pair: George is “small and quick and dark of face”; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a “family,” clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.Laborers in California’s dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie’s unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

All any hard working man could want these days was a little piece of land to call his own and to live off the fat of the land. That was always the plan for George and Lennie save for the face that Lennie was always getting into trouble. George being the brain always found them work and Lennie who for all purposes is an overpowered child in a man’s body. They are on their way to the next job with one goal in mind, to work hard enough to buy their own place so they never have to work for anyone again. When they arrive at the new job they are immediately challenged by the boss’s son Curley and have a run in with his flirtatious wife. George and Lennie make a plan with old man Curley to pool their money together and buy this little piece of land. All they have to do is make it to the end of the month. One day while the other guys are out playing horseshoes, Curley’s wife catches Lennie alone lamenting over the puppy he accidentally killed while playing with it. She takes advantage of Lennie’s like for soft things and offers to let him touch her hair. She starts screaming at Lennie and he panics, held holds tight to her and in his panic accidentally kills her. Lennie runs for it and when the others discover what he’s done they chase after him with one goal, to put him down. George finds Lennie first and kills Lennie himself because he knew there was no saving him from this situation.

I have been taking the time to throw a classical book or two into my reading lineup whenever the feeling is set upon me. While the story is short it is so powerful for this tale. Lennie is all George has and it is established rather quickly that without him Lennie would not be able to survive on his own. George plays two roles for Lennie being both a father and a brother to him. Steinbeck was able to paint such an amazing picture very quickly of the dynamic of their relationship without taking the time to explain every detail of it. When reading I think the death of the puppy really struck me, but showed exactly what the reader was supposed to gain which was Lennie’s pattern of behavior. As with previous incidents Lennie never meant any of the trouble he caused, but that does not mean his actions did not have disastrous consequences for the time period. I feel for George because he really does all that he can to protect Lennie without chaining him down like an animal, but in the end it wasn’t enough with what was bound to happen. The day when Lennie went too far and it was something he just could not be saved from.

Although I read this book over 5 years ago a fresh wave of emotion him me while reading again. It really is a true tale of love and friendship even in the end. George was not going to let Lennie suffer or fall into anyone else’s hands. He took the only opportunity he could to protect Lennie one last time. It hurt as I got to those final pages knowing exactly what was going to happen and knowing that like George there was nothing I could do to protect the lovable Lennie. I love this story and it really pulls at my heartstrings as I could see this being a real thing even today.

If you are looking for a short classical read then I suggest putting this at the top of your list. This can easily be read in a day or two days at most if you’re taking your time. Grab a box of tissues or at least be ready for some feels when going through this.

A link to the author’s bio is listed above as well a link to purchase the book. Steinbeck is an amazing author who has blessed us with countless other tales that are enriching and deeply thought provoking. Keep an eye out for other reviews of his work coming soon.

I rated this book a 4/5.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Author:J. K. Rowling (Bio) | Publication: August 1, 2000 by: Scholastic Press | Series: Harry Potter Series #4 | Length: 752 pages | Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Fiction, Magic, | ISBN:9780439139595 |Source: Amazon | Book: Amazon (here)

Harry Potter is midway through his training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup. He wants to find out about the mysterious event that’s supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn’t happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. But unfortunately for Harry Potter, he’s not normal – even by wizarding standards. And in his case, different can be deadly.

For most school age children the summer holidays mean freedom and ample amounts of relaxation. For Harry Potter it is a means another miserable summer with the Dursleys, who for all intensive purposes treat Harry as if he is a plague on their family for even existing. After getting their permission to go to the Qudditch World Cup and witnessing first hand the first sighting of the Dark Lord’s mark for the first time in 14 years Harry knows that his school year will be anything but normal. Upon returning to school the Tri-Wizard Tournament is announced and Harry is mysteriously chosen to compete with representatives from other sounds in spite of the rules put in place to forbid this. Somehow Harry barely scapes through the first two tasks and makes it to the third with very little effort put in on his part. Even the third task appears to be a breeze until he tries to share the fame of winning with Cedric Diggory. He and Cedric are taken to the grave of Voldemort’s father where Cedric is murdered and Harry watches Voldemort come back from his shell of an existence since his defeat at Harry’ hands. Harry is forced to duel with Lord Voldemort and is able to escape with Cedric’s body thanks to his and Voldemort’s wands being derived from Fawkes’s tail feather. After arriving back at school Mad Eye Moody escorts Harry back to his office to find out exactly what happened in the graveyard. It is here that Moody admits to fixing the entire tournament so that Harry would win to meet the Dark Lord. Dumbledore bursts in and with a bit of veritaserum the Moody in front of them is revealed to be Barty Crouch Jr. who was indeed a faithful servant of Voldemort. After Harry is forced to rest and heads back home to the Dursleys knowing that nothing will be the same.

I appreciated this book in the series for multiple different reasons, but I’ll start with the fact that is shows how much Harry really relies on his friends. Harry is really just a plain jane wizard if you away the Voldemort attack. His is without a doubt an extremely exceptional Qudditch player and can outrun hell on a broom, but that’s it. Moody basically held his hand completely through the first task that he was completely unprepared for. Only Hermione helping him practice got him through that. Again the second task goes to Moody and the third task I suppose Moody and Hermione must share the cake. This fact of Harry’s lack of care for his education and preparedness is more evident in this book than any of it’s predecessors. The second thing this book did that I really enjoyed was that it called attention to the fact of how crappy being Harry’s best friend had to be for Ron. I imagine it’s like living in the shadow of a celebrity or in Ron’s case a famous brother. I did not once fault Ron for being upset with Harry and was surprised that it took this long for J.K. to address that elephant in the room. The last thing I want to call attention to is the resurrection of the Dark Lord. J.K., well done milady. It was classy and such a well thought out ritual. I was floured that after all this time I had forgotten how much thought and effort had to go into the entire graveyard scene and setup to make it work the way it did. My only complaint was the length. I think this was dragged out a tiny bit.

As with the previous three reviews this was my first time listening to the Stephen Fry version of this book. In my opinion I feel as if he reads the story exactly as J.K. hears it in her head. Although this may seem trivial to some understanding how the book sounds from the author’s point of view is pretty cool.

Harry again finds himself in over his head and worst than he’s ever seen before. If you thought the first three books in the series were good, just want until you dig into this one.

A link to the author’s bio is listed above as well a link to purchase the book. The fourth was riveting and of course exciting. Moving on to the next in the battle between good and evil and what that means for Harry.

I rated this book a 5/5.